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Molina family honored by Perko’s

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera’s Perko’s Cafe and Grill owner Kelly Molina holds the Heritage Award handed out by the Perko’s franchise for an owner that shows integrity, character and leadership. With Molina is her son Chris as they stand by a family picture on the wall at Perko’s.


Perko’s Cafe and Grill owner Kelly Molina lost her husband last year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She leaned on the support of her family and her Perko’s family to get through the tough times.

The owners of the Perko’s franchise saw the support Molina received and awarded Molina and her family the franchise’s Heritage Award, that is given to a restaurant owner they think shows integrity, character and leadership.

“I didn’t know I was getting the award,” Molina said. “The Heritage Award had a lot to do with Mike and what we’ve had to do over the past year.”

Mike Molina passed away in August, 2020, but the outpouring of support to her restaurant and to the Molina family have been overwhelming.

“We got busier after COVID,” Kelly Molina said. “It’s the loyalty of the customers wanting to help and come out. We have a good family atmosphere. We are like family here. The customers feel it when they come in. It has a giant thing to do with our success. I give credit to everyone. I’ve been here a long time, but we can’t do anything by ourselves.”

In addition to receiving the Heritage Award, Molina also received the Top Sales Award.

“Our sales were almost double some other restaurants,” she said. “I kind of knew I was going to get the top sales award. They send out emails to show the sales every month and I’ve been near the top. We’ve done more in the past few months than we’ve ever done.”

However, when Kelly Molina received the Heritage Award, she quickly acknowledged her employees.

“What it did for me was the loyalty,” Molina said. “I’ve been here for almost 30 years. The loyalty our customers have towards us has shown this last year more than I’ve ever seen. The loyalty of my employees are great. I can’t do this by myself. Full credit, I have the best crew. I owe it to all of them. The sales and Heritage award is a group award — to the employees and the customers. It’s overwhelming what I’ve seen in the last year since Mike has passed away. I think things come back to you. We just did what we did. This past year has shown the loyalty toward us.”

Molina has basically grown up in Perko’s. It’s been her only job. She met Mike at Perko’s and got engaged right outside the restaurant. Her kids have worked in the restaurant. According to Molina, it’s her life.

“We’ve done so much with Perko’s,” she said. “It’s our whole life. I think the owners, who are new to the company, came across Mike’s headstone that has the Perko’s logo. They wanted to know more about that and our story. It’s our whole life. The community stuff we’ve done is great. I filled our walls with all of the mementos from the teams. It wasn’t to just to put our name out there for advertisement. Mike was legit caring about this stuff. He was super dedicated.”

Molina didn’t know she was going to receive the award, although she was a runner-up in 2019, the owners of the franchise came to her and asked for photos and to do a memorial video for her husband.

“They wanted my whole family to come,” she said. “They paid for everyone to be there. They requested pictures and showed a video for Mike. The whole room was crying. It was very nice.”

Molina’s five sons and their families attended the annual franchise meeting, including her parents and Mike’s parents.

“I’m so glad my entire family was there,” Molina said. “I was just going to take Tommy to the franchise meeting. It was going to be the first franchise meeting without Mike. When they asked to do the memorial, they asked to have the whole family there. I got them all there with my parents and Mike’s parents. We got five rooms. It was nice.”

However, receiving the Heritage just affirmed that Molina is doing the right thing and has been for the past years.

“I just feel like we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said. “You’re supposed to run a good business, you’re supposed to help people, you’re supposed to be nice to people. That’s just how we are. To get recognized for it is humbling. It felt great. As soon as I got the award, I wanted to say it was for everybody.”

Molina, who began working for Perko’s when she was still in high school, is proud to be a Perko’s Cafe and Grill owner and hopes to continue serving Madera to the best of her ability.

“The franchise owners are awesome. they are there for you. It makes a huge difference as a business owner to know you have someone to back you if you need it. I love that.”


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